Clerkship - Maximize your experience!
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Speak up! In order to make your clerkship the best learning experience it can be, you will need to ask questions. If you don’t understand what is being done, or why it is being done a certain way, ask. While your preceptor will be trying to get a sense of your knowledge base, you cannot always depend on your preceptor to know when you don’t know something. You can help the process along by becoming an active learner.
An important corollary is to be sure you clarify with your preceptor, up front, when you can ask questions, particularly when a patient is involved.
Observation can be quite useful in the learning process. However, to derive maximum benefit from these opportunities, watch your preceptor (or other clinical staff) with some specific concepts in mind:
These are just a few questions to keep in mind as you are observing. You also may come up with additional questions of your own as you observe. The important point is that you integrate what you are seeing into your thought process and if something does not make sense to you, ask about it.
Depending upon when this clerkship falls in your third year schedule, you may feel as though you can make some specific contributions from the beginning of your experience. If so, discuss these with your preceptor as you are reviewing your Clinical Skills Inventory. Even if this is your first clerkship, there are ways you can participate. Perhaps, for certain patients, you can take focused histories prior to the preceptor seeing the patient. Working with your preceptor, you also may be able to participate in patient interviews, physical exams, performing and/or interpreting diagnostic tests, and developing management plans.
The ultimate goal is to work towards becoming actively involved. If you feel as though you are spending all of your time observing, talk with your preceptor to see how you might become more actively involved. If you feel as though you are not seeing an adequate variety of patients according to the “common problems” list, by age group, or by gender, speak to your preceptor about trying to increase the variety. Also, be sure there is mutual approval for your level of involvement in the practice.
As deemed appropriate by your preceptor, become involved in the care of the patients seen. Read about the problems that you see. Talk with your preceptor about preventive medicine, alternative treatments and the rationales for and against them, cost containment, insurance and billing, staff relations, being on call, balancing the professional and personal aspects of your life, etc. Go out and seek information and discuss your findings with your preceptor. These kinds of conversations will add a new dimension to your experience and will be intellectually stimulating to both you and your preceptor.
Try to assume an active and interested role as a partner in your preceptor’s practice. Participate, not only in the office evaluation of patients, but also in administrative and economic planning, hospital rounds (if possible), other types of visits (i.e. home, nursing home, etc.). Talk with the other clinical staff and office staff to learn about how a practice is managed. Find out what they like and don’t like about being in that kind of setting. This information will be useful in helping you understand how a practice operates and may help you in your future career decision-making process.
It will be helpful to have a sense of how the day is likely to progress. What kinds of patients are you likely to see and for what reasons. Will there be any other kinds of visits made during the day. All of this information will help you prepare yourself for the day ahead.Student Handbook Links:
| Handbook Home| Student Responsibilities | Goals & Objectives|
| Log Details | Grading | Preceptor's Role |
| Maximize your experience | References |